Sandy Springs will keep a large fountain in its Veterans Park design, but an idea to install a pedestrian bridge across Roswell Road linking it to City Springs was rejected as City Council members thought it was too costly.

Councilmembers Tibby DeJulio and John Paulson, who are both veterans, led the discussion during a work session on Sept. 6 in which more members wanted to keep the fountain that would mirror a fountain across Roswell Road in front of the city’s Performing Arts Center.

City staff was instructed to return to Council with optional plans that cut the cost of the fountain or eliminated it in favor of landscaping.

In presenting a report with those options, Dave Wells, director of Facilities/Capital Construction and Building Operations, told City Council staff needed decisions on four items:

Councilmembers agreed that the oval area in the original plan for the veterans’ memorial section was too small for the scale of the park, and they favored the redesigned concept at right above. (City of Sandy Springs)

·        Veterans Park fountain and core area

·        Pedestrian bridge over Roswell Road at Mount Vernon Highway

·        Potential marquee sign locations

·        Veterans Park art selection process

Wells was joined by John Fish, vice president of Barge Design Solutions, in presenting the options to the consultant’s initial concepts for the park.

The construction cost for just the fountain was estimated at $1.33 million. Options that would have cut its size in half were estimated to cost $644,724 to $670,233.

“We’ve also looked at and discussed the possibility of having no fountain here and just simply having a simple landscape design solution which is certainly possible,” John Fish, vice president of Barge Design Solutions, said.

Estimates for dropping the fountain entirely and replacing it with landscaping were $280,000.

This “after” concept rendering shows the scale of elements of Veterans Park. Several City Council members favored the original, larger version of the Veterans Park fountain along Roswell Road. (City of Sandy Springs)

DeJulio and Paulson also favored increasing the size of the oval area which would house markers for each branch of the military to make it more prominent and comfortable.

Wells said Reeves Young Atkins gave the city a rough estimate for a pedestrian bridge as between $4 million and $7 million. In addition to the cost, the potential need to raise two Georgia Power transmission poles would add to the cost and delay the city’s Johnson Ferry Road @ Mount Vernon Highway TSPLOST improvement project by at least a year and a half.

Georgia Power would need to complete a new engineering study that would take six months and cost the city approximately $100,000. If new poles were needed, each would cost $700,000 and take a year and a half to fabricate and install.

“I think the pedestrian bridge is wasting 4 to $7 million. I think of myself and a lot of other veterans who have bad knees who would not be using that original whole lot,” DeJulio said.

He was not in favor of the bridge because it would delay the TSPLOST project.

He did favor enlarging the oval Veterans memorial area and moving the proposed sculpture by the fountain to give it more prominence and visibility from Roswell Road.

Paulson agreed with DeJulio.

“This original plan was always to make these fountains balanced on both sides of Roswell Road,” Paulson said. “And I think that’s really the statement that we’re trying to make. and I want to make sure we were true to that statement that was literally we’ve been talking about this for eight or nine years.”

Councilmember Andy Bauman, like Councilmember Jody Reichel, didn’t like the fountain. Reichel prefers landscaping. And Bauman doesn’t like the site for this park, though he deferred to DeJulio and Paulson on it.

George Bushey from Art Sandy Springs told council its suggestion for choosing a sculpture for the park would be to put out a request for qualifications or call for entries to seek local artists who would submit to the city.

The artists would be shortlisted by the committee and the veterans’ committee and invited those artists to submit a design that would stick within the $400,000 budget. Shortlisted artists would get a stipend. City Council would approve the artist and sculpture using the committees’ suggestions.

Council also gave their approval for a plan to install a marquee sign across from the park at City Springs.

A traffic count on Roswell Road near the Performing Arts Center showed a good return on investment for marquee signs, which council members agreed should be installed. (City of Sandy Springs)

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.